The Elaphiti Islands Daytrip, a Perfect Escape - Ljetnikovac Natali
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Ljetnikovac Natali
Ljetnikovac Natali

The Elaphiti Islands Daytrip, a Perfect Escape

3. May 2023.

Sprawled northwest of Dubrovnik, the Elaphite archipelago makes for a perfect day getaway from the bustling cityscapes.

Thirteen islands and islets with a fringe of pines rise from the surface of the glistening Adriatic Sea, laid out almost parallel to the mainland and very close to it. Coupling pristine nature, lovely seaside towns, and a vibrant dining scene, this dreamy landscape is one of Dubrovnik’s favorite excursions: the Elaphiti Islands.

The three largest islands are the only ones inhabited in the archipelago. Koločep or Kalamota as locals call it, sits closest to Dubrovnik. Lopud is the middle island, and Šipan the largest and farthest away. Most travelers who head this way aim to visit at least two. It is possible to hop between all three on tours like the Three Islands Cruise, but hiring a private boat for the day tops all other options. It allows you to keep true to your interests, but also to visit places at the best time, like when there are fewer visitors or during the golden hour for the best photographs.

Back in the day, the Elaphites were an important part of the Dubrovnik Republic. Koločep was the seat of coral hunters; Lopud was the home of captains and shipyards; Šipan’s fertile fields and abundant water, so untypical for islands, provided much-needed food. At the time, travel was mostly done by boat, as strutting on the mainland on horses, donkeys, or on foot was a strenuous and unsafe affair. This led to many aristocrats building their summer villas on the shores of the Elaphites; this thriving past leaves much to be admired today.

The island of Šipan counted some sixty summer estates. Many are now restored and a sight to behold as you wander the island. The most famous, and certainly one of the best preserved in the region, is the Skočibuha summer estate in the village of Suđurađ. Complete with a defensive tower and a tall wall around its manicured gardens, it shows very well how the island estates had to focus more on defense than their city counterparts. Today, Šipan is also known for its olive oils, carob flour, and wines, which can be tasted in restaurants and on family-run estates. The island also holds the archipelago’s highest peak, Velji Vrh at 234 meters that rewards hikers with resplendent panoramas.  

Next-door to Šipan, the waterfront of the town of Lopud on the namesake island is likely the archipelago’s most scenic one. The thickly woven historic settlement descends along green slopes, with its seafront flanked by the gorgeous 15th-century Franiciscan Monastery on one end and the modern-looking hotel Lafodia on the other. Replete with cafés and small shops, Lopud waterfront is the perfect place for a scenic sunset, an al fresco lunch, or an easy afternoon espresso followed by a swim on the island’s sandy beaches. The most popular is certainly the sandy cove of Šunj, which can be accessed by a 20-minute hike from Lopud but also directly by private boat.

The smallest of the three, Koločep, rewards hikers with pristine and wild nature dotted with tiny pre-Romanesque churches, witnesses of some ancient times. Swimmers should not miss the Blue Cave, a small crack at the bottom of a massive cliff with an interior that glistens with turquoise shimmer. Accessible only by boat, the Blue Cave is a highlight of any journey to the Elaphites.

For visitors and locals alike, the Elaphites are a place where you can travel back in time, get back to nature, enjoy fun summer times but also complete seclusion in secret coves.

Consider a daytrip while here!